The Night Shift
by Debi Gliori
Allen & Unwin
A groundbreaking picture book on depression with stunning and powerful illustrations.
‘Debi Gliori is amazing. Her pictures offer people an insight into depression that words often struggle to reach. She makes visible the invisible. And I for one want to thank her for that.’ – Matt Haig, bestselling author of Reasons to Stay Alive
With stunning black and white illustration and deceptively simple text, author and illustrator Debi Gliori examines how depression affects one’s whole outlook upon life, and shows that there can be an escape – it may not be easy to find, but it is there. Drawn from Debi’s own experiences and with a moving testimony at the end of the book explaining how depression has affected her and how she continues to cope, Debi hopes that by sharing her own experience she can help others who suffer from depression, and to find that subtle shift that will show the way out.
‘I have used dragons to represent depression. This is partly because of their legendary ability to turn a once fertile realm into a blackened, smoking ruin and partly because popular mythology shows them as monstrous opponents with a tendency to pick fights with smaller creatures. I’m not particularly brave or resourceful, and after so many years battling my beasts, I have to admit to a certain weariness, but I will arm-wrestle dragons for eternity if it means that I can help anyone going through a similar struggle.’
There’s not much I can say about this book except that it’s incredibly profound, unique and daring. Gliori attempts to do what many authors don’t and that’s communicating the experience of depression with a combination of simple language and illustrations that somehow have so much meaning carried in them.
The book is composed as if it was a children’s picture book with amusing illustrations and brief sentences to accompany them but I love how Gliori is able to evoke such raw emotion and provoke some very significant thoughts through such succinct sentences.
The extended metaphor of depression as a kind of dragon is original in the way Gliori detailedly describes how the depression has the ability to destroy everything in its wake. Of course, not everyone’s experience with depression is the same but I have no doubt that this book’s representation of it with speak to everyone. It’s not so much a book about how to ‘get over’ depression but rather a message that you’re not alone. The book is extremely brief, less than 50 pages but we follow the persona as she wakes up in the morning and goes by her day with the dragon upon her. By presenting her own story, Gliori makes sure that we understand that whilst depression is a very tough thing to go through, we are all brave, wonderful and not alone.
This is definitely a powerful and special book. I am very glad to have read it and now that it will definitely not be the last time I will read it. Debi Gliori is very successful in showing us that we must all acknowledge the dragon in the room – (see what I did there?)